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Real People, Real God
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(For those who put their faith in safety, security, and the “good life” they create for themselves.)
Meet Eleazar—Aaron’s third-born son and nephew of Miriam and Moses. In Exodus 28:1, we learn that Eleazar becomes a priest, but in Miriam’s story, Eleazar is a devout bachelor whose life as a slave soldier has hardened his heart toward any god. Though he adores his doda Miriam and his grandparents, Amram and Jochebed, he has nothing but disdain for their god who has seemingly abandoned Israel and acted as capriciously as the Egypt’s deities.
“If this is what it means to be chosen by your god, I’d rather serve Anubis and take my chances in Egypt’s afterlife.”
“How dare he hope in the God he’d cursed at Kadesh…It would take more than a few tricks to bring Eleazar to his knees?”
“Whether or not Yahweh was real didn’t excuse the inhumanity Eleazar witnessed every day. How could any god watch men’s cruelty and do nothing? And if Yahweh was real, how could He let Israel suffer the harsh bondage of Egypt all these years? No matter how many miracles Yahweh performed, these questions deserved answers before Eleazar could trust Him.”
Other characters also struggled to reconcile God’s goodness with the evil they saw in the world:
“Why does Yahweh attack His own family? Why must God’s people suffer along with those He’s punishing? I don’t understand it.”
“How can we know when Yahweh will protect us and when He’ll welcome tragedy into our house?”
“I’m trying to trust You, but must You take everyone I love?”
“She had always known Shaddai’s love. Now, she was seeing Yahweh’s power and it terrified her.”
“Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?”
Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’?”
Each of the above quotations explores a slightly different nuance to the very common barrier of faith: How can I know for sure that He is good—especially when faced with the problem of pain/evil in the world?
Points to Ponder
- Sometimes we see God’s hand at work, but we’re not quite sure we like what we see. Describe a time when you found it hard to trust God’s goodness and His plans.
- Have you ever demanded that God do something about the cruelty in the world? What was it you wanted Him to do?
- Now—if we turn the lens back on ourselves—what do we want God to do when He finds us being cruel? Do we want Him to punish, or do we want Him to forgive?
- In chapter 36, Miriam asks Eleazar if he is really going to stand in judgment of God. He answers, “Yes! …I judge a god who kills the righteous with the unrighteous.” Read Romans 3:10-12, Psalm 14:1-3, and Genesis 6:5-6. According to these verses, when we place ourselves on the “righteousness scale,” how do we weigh? With this in mind, what might you say to Eleazar concerning his demands and judgment of God (or your own demands and judgment of God)?
- As you observe cruelty in the world, are you quick to include yourself among the cruel and the wicked, or among the righteous? Read Jeremiah 10:24. Examine your life to see where you exemplify cruelty, wickedness, and oppression of others. Ask God to correct you from your cruelty and wickedness. Consider also asking God to correct the cruelty of the wicked oppressors in the world, and to correct them not in His anger, lest they be destroyed. Ask God to redeem the cruelty in this world, and bring peace.
- Aside from our own culpability in the evil we see in the world, sometimes it is just plain hard to see anything good around us or to have any hope of goodness, redemption, or peace conquering the evils we face. This makes it hard to trust God…to trust that He is good, or that He even exists! Read Matthew 7:9-11 and Luke 12:29-30, 32. How do these passages help you remember God’s goodness?
- Read Isaiah 55:8-9. How does this passage help you trust God? Or how might it be frustrating?
- Read Romans 5:6-8. How does Christ’s death prove that God is for us, and that His actions are loving and for our good? What would happen if we chose to measure God’s compassion, love, and goodness by the cross? How might it change our perspective on Him?
This Week’s Faith Builders
- Keep Romans 3:10-12 in mind. Consider asking God to keep you in a humble remembrance of your own unrighteousness, and your need for HIM to make you righteous.
- Write out Isaiah 55:8-9 and Luke 12:32 on a post it note or a note card you can keep with you. Throughout each day, when you find yourself feeling weary or troubled, reread these verses or repeat them to yourself as a reminder that God is good, and His plans and ways are higher (and better) than yours. Take comfort in His “bigness” and goodness.
Scriptures to Build On
Romans 3:10-12 – “As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’”
Psalm 14:1-3 – “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.”
Genesis 6:5-6 – “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.”
Jeremiah 10:24 – “Correct me, O Lord, but in justice; not in your anger, lest you reduce me to nothing.”
Matthew 7:9-11 – “Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
Luke 12:29-30, 32 – “And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them…Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Isaiah 55:8-9 – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Romans 5:8 – “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”